From Dining with the Devil to Feasting with the Lamb
Photo credit: Alex Haney on Uusplash
Some of the first words that Jesus spoke to Peter after the resurrection were “come and dine” (John 21:12). In recording this incident of the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection, John makes the point that Jesus “revealed himself in this way” (John 21:1). In other words, Jesus’ invitation to “come and dine,” was more than to feed hungry fishermen. By inviting Peter to “come and dine” Jesus is reaffirming his love for Peter after the epic denial (John 18:27)—and he did this by eating with him.
Although it can take on either a negative or a positive association, the act of eating together is associated in Scripture with fellowship (Genesis 43:16, John 21:12), intimacy (Song of Solomon 5:1-2), friendship (Genesis 14:18; Luke 14:12, 15:2), union or participation with (John 6:54-58). It can also involve joyful celebration (Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 15:23).
Understanding this negative association adds a remarkable and ominous poignancy to the story of the fall in Genesis three. When Adam ate of the forbidden tree, it was more than an act of disobedience against God, it marked his communion with the Devil. He became the devil’s friend and allied himself with God’s archenemy. Adam then became an enemy of God (Romans 5:10, Philippians 3:18).
In the gospel, God responded in kind to this act of cosmic rebellion. First, Satan would eat dust, a reference to utter defeat, humiliation, and destruction (verses 14-15, Psalm 72:5). Second, Adam would be restored to life and immortality, but he and all his posterity would eat in sorrow all the days of their lives (verse 16-19, Psalm 80:5).
When we come into the New Testament, the imagery of eating takes on a special significance and beauty when Jesus identifies himself as the “bread of life” (John 6:48). The contrast here, between the fall into sin and the recovery from sin is stark. In dining with the Devil Adam had eaten death. Now Jesus comes, the One who has defeated Satan, (made him eat dust) and invites us to eat of Himself, the bread of life.
Jesus calls us to “come and dine” with him. But first, we must eat of him. He is the bread of life. Jesus uses the image of bread to speak of that which is essential to life, and He follows on to explain how life is recovered from the jaws of death. It is by the sacrificial death of Jesus Himself, and therefore, Jesus continues, you must eat my flesh and drink my blood (John 6:54). In other words, we must believe in Him, His word, His work—accept his death as a substitute for our death. By this we become participants in the work of Christ and the benefits which follow—we died with him on the cross and we will therefore live with him (Romans 6:8, 1 Thess. 5:10).
Death entered when Adam received the word of Satan, believed his empty promises, and sealed his agreement with Satan by eating from the tree. So, life is restored when we receive the word of Christ, rest in his promises, and feed by faith on the benefits of his sacrificial death.
Dining with the devil was not the joyous celebration Adam and his wife thought it would be, it brought misery, pain, and death. By contrast, eating the bread of life brings life and peace (Malachi 2:5; Romans 8:6). Jesus invites us to remember this and to receive the grace of the gospel, at the Lord’s Table, the Communion feast. But we do this in the hope of that final and ultimate celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), when we will be brought into uninterrupted fellowship with the Saviour in the new Eden—paradise restored.